I want to talk to you about that baggage you’re dragging along behind you. The baggage that’s getting in the way of Helping Yourself.
I know you’re holding on to some stuff that’s holding you back. We all do.
Here’s the thing. Our brains are wonderful, marvelous machines that try their best to help us through situations. When a problem arises, our brains go into overdrive trying to find solutions to cater to our basic needs – survival, shelter, safety. Our brains learn from these past experiences and keep the solutions to hand. So, when we encounter somewhat similar (note, similar, and not identical) situations, our brains reach for that same solution that it had applied to the previous problem.
This creates that dreaded baggage everyone talks about. I’ll use myself as an example.
You may have heard me talk about growing up in a racist neighborhood, being the only black family on the block (I’ve put up a post about this on LinkedIn here – if you’re not following me, please do ‘cause I post a lot of great useful content on there).
At that time, survival meant everything to me. I had to protect myself from a real threat of persecution, from mental harm, and from possible physical harm. As a kid, I quickly learned to put up a strong front to combat this threat. I had to be stronger than the circumstances around me just to get by.
The front became second nature, it became me. The insecurities on the inside, the fear, all those things that could have made me “weak” were hidden behind this front. There was no way I would let myself be vulnerable because being vulnerable meant danger. My true self was kept tightly under wraps.
As I grew up, this defense mechanism stayed with me. People simply could not get to the real me, and I could no longer distinguish my front from who I was. I couldn’t voice the simplest needs to other people, not even to significant others, because if I did, I would show weakness. And again, being weak meant I would be in danger.
I was using a mechanism I had learned for my own self-preservation and one that had served me at the time. It no longer serves me now. I’m not a kid, I’m not helpless, I’m simply not back there. I have no use for this survival mechanism anymore. I have no use for the front.
I had to let go. Not of me, and certainly not of my experiences. After all, my experiences got me to where I am. And there is no realistic way to effectively erase what I’ve been through, is there? I had to let go of that voice that was telling me that I needed to protect myself by blocking out the world. That voice served me before, but the time had come to say goodbye to it. And I did. It wasn’t a quick process. I can’t tell you I woke up one day and just magically let go of everything that was holding me back. But I did learn to gradually let go. To replace the survival mechanism with healthier habits that serve me in the here and now. I learned to find strength in the vulnerability that my fear had previously translated into danger.
Queen, I want you to make the decision to move forward with purpose and intention. It’s the only way to actually let go, which is the first step in Helping Yourself. When you live with purpose and intention, you will be able to separate what supports the baggage (that useless, heavy baggage) from what supports you and your personal growth.
As you continue your journey, take the time to separate your baggage from what you need to get you to where you want to be. Here are some self-coaching questions that will help you to do that:
- Do I need to make this decision right now, or can it wait? If the decision can wait, then don’t rush things. Take time. And realistically, most decisions can wait, even if it’s a day or two.
- What do I need right now? Is the need I am feeling right now driven by something that is happening here and now, or is it being driven by something that happened to me in my past?
- Am I, right here and now, thinking about this decision with intention, or are my thoughts being driven by something else? If they’re being driven by something else, identify what that is. Is it fear, a need for someone else’s approval, an insecurity, etc.
- Does the decision I want to take help me achieve my higher purpose, or is it counterproductive to what I want to achieve for myself?
And Queen, practice being kind to yourself. Take time out to celebrate the small and big achievements, the steps you have taken, and even just being here, now. Take the time to give yourself words of encouragement, praise yourself, maybe even give yourself a nice pep talk from time to time in front of the mirror. Everything becomes so much easier when you become your biggest supporter.
Put the work in Queen, and you’ll see it pay off sooner than you think. And get ready, ‘cause next month we’re moving on to Accept Yourself! How does that sound? Good? Yeah, I knew it would 😉
Fix your crown.